When you and I were about to break there was no question of a fight over who would take the cups and who the saucers. You spilled over with steam, meniscus rippling with the slightest touch; I, supine on the floor, licked the milk once meant for you. Both of us were china at that point. One of us had been to China too, known the meaning of porcelain freedoms, sniffed red guards. One of us had known the sound of an alien tongue, harsh and guttural as it came from smiling mouths. Our smiles were circular, yours and mine, yours from the top of the tea and mine below—two halves joined together on separate rims. When we blew at each other, the crockery stayed firm, and who but you and I would know the liquid moved? No, there was no fight over chipped white glass. The pieces lay upon the kitchen floor. And I—I've moved to tea parties in other living rooms, balancing alien porcelain on a frigid palm.
The Whole Deal
It takes much to be empowered: you must feel the lava spewing from your breath, rising from the volcano that hisses near your intestine, spilling over to turn the rivers red. It takes much to be empowered: to feel whole when bits of breast and ovary lie in plastic bags, dissected into bland reports that tell the world you’re well. It takes much to know the burning coal that lay inside of you is now a charred and empty space and the river is no longer red. It takes much to know you have scaled the mountain, scarred yourself with the ridges at your feet and you have almost touched the horizon where the sky bleeds black. It takes a special pair of molten eyes to see that untouched self and to meet yourself on the other side where the rivers flow no more. That’s when you feel empowered, that’s when you still feel whole.
Menka Shivdasani is the author of four poetry collections, Frazil, Safe House Nirvana at Ten Rupees and Stet. She is co-translator of Freedom and Fissures, an anthology of Sindhi Partition Poetry, published by the Sahitya Akademi. Menka’s work has been extensively represented in anthologies and literary magazines, in India and abroad. Her poem, “An Atheist’s Confessions,” has been included in the University of Mumbai S.Y.B.A. English textbook, Indian Literature in English: An Anthology, published in 2012. She is the editor of an anthology of women’s writing brought out by Sound and Picture Archives for Research on Women (SPARROW). Menka is the Mumbai coordinator of the global movement, 100 Thousand Poets for Change, and a founder member of Asia-Pacific Writers and Translators Association. In 1986, she had played a key role in founding the Poetry Circle. She was conferred the inaugural WE- Eunice de Souza Poetry Award in Dec ‘20.